By Kimberly Fish Former Director of Plateau Outreach Ministries
Originally Published December 1st, 2010
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them”
These words are posted on the wall at Plateau Outreach Ministries (POM) Samaritan Project. POM’s staff and volunteers need to be reminded of these words often as we work with clients in financial crisis. Many times people need help with more than simply making ends meet; they are looking to make a change in their lives.
People come to the Samaritan Project with a myriad of needs, from the inability to pay a power or rent bill to assistance with vital medical prescriptions. Our job at POM is to interview clients with open ears, open eyes, and most of all, open hearts. During our conversations we sometimes hear or see something that raises a red flag, a sign that perhaps the real problem is rooted somewhere beneath the words spoken. When we pay attention to that red flag we often find ourselves dealing with issues that go beyond simply financial. It becomes clear that issues such as addictions or domestic violence are at the root. At POM we know we can only help these clients when we put aside our judgments and come to the table with clear hearts.
It is always challenging to approach these issues with someone we have just met. But if we truly want to help the clients that come through our doors we must be willing to speak the truth. We have to ask the tough questions so we can address the real problem and not just address the symptoms.
We strive to create a place of safety at POM, to be people that our clients can trust, where they can speak freely and receive help without judgment. It is always a joy to walk with someone who has decided to seek help and move forward in their lives. Sometimes this happens quickly and sometimes we see a client several times before they find the courage to make a change. Either way, part of the process is to welcome them each time, to speak the truth, and to continually reassure them and give them hope.
As I was speaking with a good friend of mine the other day, she looked straight into my eyes, and with tears in hers said, “I know POM saved the life of my child”. I think of that exchange often. In my heart I know what happened at POM with her child: we chose to not judge….so we had time to love.